"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."

Sunday, June 24, 2018

New Book: The Santa Fe Scottish Rite Temple


In the last 15 years or so, there has been a growing interest by art historians and architectural preservation experts in something Freemasons have taken for granted for over a century – the practical ways in which we have performed and presented our degrees onstage.  The dramatic presentations of Masonic and fraternal degree rituals reached their pinnacle in the United States at the turn of the last century in the purpose built theatres of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite.  In the explosive period of growth from the late 1800s up through the beginning of the Great Depression, U.S. Freemasonry's ranks swelled to new heights, and this was coupled with the City Beautiful architectural movement that encouraged government and the private sector to design buildings to be timeless, majestic, and most of all, intrinsic to the communities in which they existed.  Every architect had a copy of John Ruskin's The Seven Lamps of Architecture on his bookshelf as inspiration, and the greatest building boom of what were deemed 'important buildings' began.

But along with the building craze among fraternal groups to out-do each other with their impressive clubhouses, there was a revolution going on in theatrical staging technology.  New electric lighting, elaborate stage rigging and on-stage theatrical visual tricks, acoustic auditorium design, fireproofing, complex pipe organs with sound effects, and much more moved out of just Broadway and big city venues and fanned out into these enormous but private theatres constructed solely for the purpose of conferring fraternal degree rituals upon thousands of candidates each year.  The fastest growing fraternal group in the U.S. during this period was the Scottish Rite, and for good reason.



The Santa Fe, New Mexico Scottish Rite Temple, designed by Isaac Hamilton Rapp and opened in 1912 for the Scottish Rite Valley of Santa Fe, is a unique landmark Masonic building for a variety of reasons that extent beyond just its distinctive Moorish-revival, pinkish exterior (derided by some locals as "the Pepto-Bismol building"). Like so many other Masonic buildings across the country, it has teetered back and forth on prosperity or extinction over the years, as the fraternity wrestles with plunging membership, criminally low dues, too much real estate, and failure by our forefathers to create foundations and long-range planning. Nevertheless, there remains a longstanding interest by area Masons and non-Masons alike to preserve and maintain this particular unique Masonic temple, and it has recently been made available to the public for event rentals.



A new book has just been published that captures the Santa Fe Scottish Rite Temple in a unique manner. The Santa Fe Scottish Rite Temple: Freemasonry, Architecture, and Theatre edited by Wendy Waszut-Barrett with photography by Jo Whaley has just been published by the Museum of New Mexico Press ($39.95 hardcover).  Nearly 150 photographs document the Temple inside and out, including images of every hand-painted backdrop used by Santa Fe to present the 29 degrees of the Scottish Rite of the Southern Jurisdiction.  But in a departure from just flat photos of painted scenery, Whaley has brought them to life by populating every scene with Masons and other actors appropriately costumed as they would appear in each degree.  






In 2000, Wendy Waszut-Barrett founded a company specializing in historic theater scenery restoration, and led the restoration of the Santa Fe Scottish Rite scenery collection starting back in 2002.  Her illustrated article, “Theatrical Interpretations of the Indispensable Degrees” appeared in Heredom No. 12. It discussed how the Scottish Rite grew so fast and so large, principally by its use of theatrical presentations.  Today she is president of Historic Stage Services LLC in Minnesota, and is widely considered to be the top expert in restoration and preservation of these unique backdrops that we Masons (and those who inherit or purchase our abandoned buildings) tend to take for granted.

Today (Sunday, June 24th), there will be an open house, presentations, the kick-off release of the new book, and tours of the Sante Fe Temple between 4-6 p.m. Bagpiper Robert Schlaer will welcome the public at 4 p.m., followed by Eric Fricke playing the center’s organ, presentations by editors Wendy Waszut-Barrett (text) and Jo Whaley (photography), and then a “Scenic Spectacle” with Masons in costume and Morrow Hall playing the organ. There will also be tours of the building, book signings, and refreshments in the grand ballroom. The presentation and Scenic Spectacle repeat at 6 p.m.

The Scottish Rite Center is located at 463 Paseo de Peralta in Santa Fe.

For much more information, see Making Like Masons by Paul Weideman on the Pasatiempo website today HERE.


Incidentally, the Masonic Restoration Foundation 2018 Symposium will be held at the Santa Fe Scottish Rite Temple August 10-12th. CLICK HERE for more information.

St. John the Baptist Day June 24th

“There is in every regular and well governed Lodge, a certain point within a circle, embordered by two parallel perpendicular lines... “

In our American Masonic ritual variations, one of the least understood symbols is this point within a circle, bounded by two parallel lines, with the volume of sacred law at the top. Like everything else within our symbolism, if you poke around into history and the origins of why we do what we do as Masons, much can be discovered in the tiniest of things.

Today, June 24th, Freemasons celebrate the Feast of St. John the Baptist. A curious thing for a purportedly non-sectarian group to do. Freemasonry historically acknowledges St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist as its patron saints, reveres their memory, points to their exemplary lives in its ritualistic work, and dedicates its lodges to them.

In 1740, Chevalier Andrew Michael Ramsey, a Scottish expatriate living in France and Orator of the Grand Lodge of France, first suggested what morphed into the Templar theory of the formation of Freemasons. 
"During the time of the holy wars in Palestine, several principal lords and citizens associated themselves together, and entered into a vow to re-establish the temples of the Christians in the Holy Land; and engaged themselves by an oath to employ their talents and their fortune in restoring architecture to its primitive institution. They adopted several ancient signs and symbolic words drawn from religion by which they might distinguish themselves from the infidels and recognize each other in the midst of the Saracens. They communicated these signs and words only to those who had solemnly sworn, often at the foot of the altar, never to reveal them. This was not an oath of execration but a bond uniting men of all nations into the same confraternity. Some time after our order was united with the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. Hence our lodges are, in all Christian countries, called Lodges of St. John."
Ramsey largely invented his tale out of whole cloth, and there is nothing to suggest that his account was anything more than a fairy tale.

What is called the Old York Lecture from about 1770 in England contains the following as part of its EA catechism:


"Q. To whom were the lodges dedicated during the Mosaic dispensation?"__"

A. To Moses, the chosen of God, and Solomon, the son of David."__


"Q. And under what name were the Masons known during that period?"__


"A. Under the name of Dionysiacs, Geometricians, or Masters in Israel."__


"Q. But as Solomon was a Jew, and died long before the promulgation of Christianity, to whom were they dedicated under the Christian dispensation?"__


"A. From Solomon the patronage of Masonry passed to St. John the Baptist."__


"Q. And under what name were they known after the promulgation of Christianity?"__


"A. Under the name of Essenes, Architects, or Freemasons."__


"Q. Why were the lodges dedicated to St. John the Baptist?"__


"A. Because he was the forerunner of our Saviour, and by preaching repentance and humiliation, drew the first parallel of the Gospel."__


"Q. Had St. John the Baptist any equal?"__


"A. He had; St. John the Evangelist."__


"Q. Why was he said to be the equal of the Baptist?"__


"A. Because he finished by his learning what the other began by his zeal, and thus drew a second line parallel to the former; ever since which time Freemason's lodges in all Christian countries, have been dedicated to the one, or the other, or both of these worthy and worshipful men."

William Preston's Lectures, which is what our own degree ritual lectures are based upon (by way of Thomas Smith Webb in the U.S.), were the standard in the premiere Grand Lodge of England until the reconciliation between the "Ancient" and "Modern" factions in 1813, when a compromise was developed. References to the Saints were removed, the parallel lines were said to represent Moses and Solomon, and the lodges dedicated "to God and his service." Our English brethren removed the saints to eliminate any hint of religious sectarianism, but in so doing lost a vital aspect of Masonic symbolism and teaching in the process.

The symbol itself is actually based on an ancient astrological and later alchemical symbol known by many today as a circumpunct (a term popularized in Dan Brown's Masonic-influenced novel The Lost Symbol). The point in the center (image at right) originally represented the Earth in some societies, which was thought to be the center of the Universe. The Heavens were believed to spin around the Earth, represented by the circle. Over time, the heliocentric theory of the Universe prevailed, and the circumpunct symbol settled into actually being representative of the Sun (Sol).

As alchemy became established in the Renaissance, that science developed its own associative symbolism to depict elements. Seven particular metals were denoted to be essential planetary elements, principal among them being gold, which was thought to be the most perfect metal. Gold was associated with the Sun for its luminescence and color, and for its perfection. So its alchemical symbol also became that same point within a circle.

As alchemy developed and became more intertwined with Qabalistic philosophies, some of its proponents like the revolutionary 16th century scientist Paracelsus suggested that celestial bodies affected different parts of the body, and associated the heart with the Sun. So, this is probably the evolution of how Freemasonry first adopted this symbol of the Sun and gold to represent the human soul or conscience that strives for perfection, and its relation to both Mankind and to the universe that revolves around us in our own little personal orbits.

(Also related to Masonic symbolism from our opening ritual is the metal silver, which was associated with the Moon, or Luna, and represented by a crescent. The silver Moon's Qabalistic association was to the brain, which was associated with older theories of the effects of the Moon's phases on the mind, and our eventual use of the related word "lunacy." So, when we open lodge, note the balance between the Sun or heart, the Moon or brain, and the pivotal role of the Master of the Lodge in the center, governing them both "with equal regularity."  This is why in Continental Masonic lodges, the Master's chair is frequently seen flanked by images of the Sun and Moon on the wall.)

The two parallel lines were eventually added to the astrological version of the Sun symbol, and represented the summer and winter solstices, the longest and shortest days of the year. For thousands of years, these two days six months apart were celebrated as pagan feast days all over the world, and they were especially important to farming societies, because they were the astronomical methods of calculating planting seasons.

In about 300 A.D., the early Catholic Church began to dedicate popular pagan feast days to the saints. June 24th, the longest day of the year, was declared St. John the Baptist day, while December 27th, the shortest day, was dedicated to St. John the Evangelist. Collectively, Masons refer to them as the Holy Saints John.

Operative Freemasonry was first developed when Roman Catholicism was the prevailing religion throughout the Western world, and these feast days continued under the Church of England. It was common for guilds and other trade groups to adopt one or more patron saints. Some operative masons picked both Saints John, and over the centuries speculative Freemasons commonly celebrate these feast days with banquets. And curiously, even though Freemasonry today is non-denominational and non-sectarian, American Masons have retained these customs of old. Most rituals in America say that Masons come “from a lodge of the Holy Saints John of Jerusalem,” while in other parts of the world, lodges are dedicated to King Solomon.

But what is the practical application of this sort of symbolic dot connecting?

Consider that John the Baptist was zealous, while John the Evangelist was learned, and by picking both of them as patron saints, Masons symbolically united — and juxtaposed — both passion and reason, keeping them both in balance at all times, again "with equal regularity."

The symbol also depicts the Holy Bible or Volume of Sacred Law at the top of the circle. In Masonry, the point represents the individual, and the circle is the boundary of his actions. Taken as a whole, this combined symbol embodies the lesson that a Mason should consult the sacred texts or teachings of his own faith to achieve the proper balance between passion and intensity on one side, and knowledge and education on the other. In other words, he should balance education, excitement and faith to effectively subdue his passions

Taken as a whole, it is a graphic representation of the conscience, the soul, and the struggle to achieve perfect emotional balance and mental perfection. In other words, to "Know Thyself."

More information about the Feast of St. John the Evangelist from the indispensable Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs by Fr. Francis X. Weiser, SJ:
This saint was highly honored throughout the whole Church from the beginning. Proof of this is, among other things, the fact that fifteen churches were dedicated to him in the ancient imperial city of Constantinople. Being the precursor of our Lord, he was accorded the same honor as the first great saints of the Christian era, although he belonged to the Old Covenant. The fact that Christ praised him so highly (Matthew 11, 11) encouraged, of course, a special veneration. Accordingly, we find a regular cycle of feasts in his honor among the early Christian churches.

[snip]

The question arises of why June 24, and not 25. It has often been claimed that the Church authorities wanted to "Christianize" the pagan solstice celebrations and for this reason advanced Saint John's feast as a substitute for the former pagan festival. However, the real reason why Saint John's Day falls on June 24 lies in the Roman way of counting, which proceeded backward from the calends (first day) of the succeeding month. Christmas was "the eighth day before the Kalends of January" (Octavo Kalendas Januarii). Consequently, Saint John's nativity was put on the "eighth day before the Kalends of July." However, since June has only thirty days, in our way of counting the feast falls on June 24.

[snip]

The Baptist is patron of tailors (because he made his own garments in the desert), of shepherds (because he spoke of the "Lamb of God"), and of masons. This patronage over masons is traced to his words:

'Make ready the way of the Lord, make straight all his paths. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, And the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways smooth.' (Luke 3, 4-6.)
All over Europe, from Scandinavia to Spain, and from Ireland to Russia, Saint John's Day festivities are closely associated with the ancient nature lore of the great summer festival of pre-Christian times. Fires are lighted on mountains and hilltops on the eve of his feast. These "Saint John's fires" burn brightly and quietly along the fiords of Norway, on the peaks of the Alps, on the slopes of the Pyrenees, and on the mountains of Spain (where they are called Hogueras). They were an ancient symbol of the warmth and light of the sun which the forefathers greeted at the beginning of summer. In many places, great celebrations are held with dances, games, and outdoor meals.

Fishermen from Brittany keep this custom even while far out at sea in the Arctic Ocean. They hoist a barrel filled with castoff clothing to the tip of the mainsail yard and set the contents on fire. All ships of the fishing fleet light up at the same time, about eight o'clock in the evening. The men gather around the mast, pray and sing. Afterward they celebrate in their quarters, and the captain gives each crew member double pay.

Another custom is that of lighting many small fires in the valleys and plains. People gather around, jump through the flames, and sing traditional songs in praise of the saint or of summer. This custom is based on the pre-Christian "need fires" (niedfyr, nodfyr) which were believed to cleanse, cure, and immunize people from all kinds of disease, curses, and dangers. In Spain these smaller fires (fogatas) are lighted in the streets of towns and cities, everybody contributing some old furniture or other wood, while children jump over the flames. In Brest, France, the bonfires are replaced by lighted torches which people throw in the air. In other districts of France they cover wagon wheels with straw, then set them on fire with a blessed candle and roll them down the hill slopes.



Thursday, June 21, 2018

Yorkshire Masons Initiate Paralyzed Brother

Jason Liversidge

This week, Brother Jason Liversidge in England posted this video on Youtube concerning his initiation into a lodge within the Provincial Grand Lodge of Yorkshire and East Ridings of the United Grand Lodge of England. He is truly a unique individual. 

Jason is almost completely paralyzed and suffers from Motor Neuron Disease (MND).  He is confined to an electric wheelchair and communicates via a computer speech synthesis voice, much as the late Stephen Hawking famously did throughout his adult life.  But that hasn't stopped him from activities like parasailing, riding in a Formula 1 racing car, and other out of the ordinary experiences.  

And he is now counted among the largest and greatest fraternity in the world.

Different jurisdictions throughout the Masonic world have varying requirements concerning petitioners for the degrees.  Up until about 50 years ago, it was commonplace for grand lodges to have a so-called 'doctrine of physical perfection.' Indiana actually had a rule until the 1970s that any man wearing a hernia truss was ineligible for the degrees of Masonry.  Others forbade men with missing limbs - even veterans - for a variety of reasons.  But with the passage of time and modern day awareness of people with disabilities, numerous grand lodges have relaxed this requirement.  Some have removed restrictive rules, while others have granted dispensations for extraordinary circumstances.  It seems tragic to turn away an excited and dedicated man, or one who has a family history with the fraternity, because he is blind, is missing fingers, or can't kneel or walk a floor with squared corners.

Here in Indiana, we established Bartimaeus Lodge U.D. as a special purpose lodge back in 1961.  Made up of members from all over the state, Bartimaeus Lodge is called upon in a wide variety of situations to assist with, or fully confer, the degrees of Freemasonry when a candidate has special physical needs as a result of a disability.  The lodge is appropriately named after the blind beggar whose sight was restored by Jesus on the road to Jericho, as told in the Book of the Apostles of Matthew and Luke, and actually identified by name in the account by Mark (10:46-52).  The lodge's mission is to permit candidates who are handicapped to experience the degrees of Masonry as closely and as properly as their abilities will permit. Since its formation, they have initiated, passed and raised countless Indiana Masons who are blind, deaf, infirm, confined to wheelchairs, and much more. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

No He Isn't, And No It's Not


This photo has been flying around social media all weekend, and already the howling has begun.

Yes, I know, it looks like President Trump is holding a white lambskin Masonic apron.

No, Donald Trump is NOT a Freemason. 

(And no, former president Barack Obama is NOT one either.)

And no, it's NOT an apron, but a diplomatic envelope being delivered to the President by North Korean envoy Kim Yong Chol.

And while it's remotely possible that there is a minuscule handful of Freemasons alive in North Korea these days, it's NOT likely, and Kim Yong Chol in particular is one of the last guys on Earth who would be associated with it.

And no, it's NOT "significant" that Thomas Jefferson's photo is hanging in the background, because no, Thomas Jefferson (the THIRD President!!!) was NOT provably a Freemason — much less a 33rd degree one (however, if anybody can dig up an authentic record saying otherwise either from his days in Paris or the lodge in Charlottesville, you'll get extra green beans with your steak dinner).


But for those of you who still believe this nonsense, here you go. The generic foil works just as good as the expensive Reynolds Wrap.


Friday, June 08, 2018

MSA Issues Disaster Appeals For Guatemala and Puerto Rico Masons

The Masonic Service Association of North America has two 
Disaster Relief Appeals currently in effect.

Grand Lodge of Guatemala


The Fuego Volcano in Guatemala erupted with terrible force on June 3rd, killing many and burying hundreds more. Authorities reported at least 109 people were killed when the volcano exploded Sunday, and there are nearly 200 listed as missing so far. Guatemala's government suspended the search for the dead Thursday, saying wet weather and still-hot volcanic material were too dangerous for rescuers. Volcanic ash has fallen over half of Guatemala where agriculture is crucial. Further eruptions and seismic events are expected.

The Grand Master of Guatemala, Brother Estuardo Ordoñez Kocher, has asked the Masonic Service Association of North America to issue a Disaster Relief Appeal to help his afflicted brethren and their families. He reports that six of over 50 burned children have already been sent to the Shriners Hospital in Galveston, Texas, but, unfortunately, his local resources have been expended.


TO DONATE FOR THE MSA APPEAL FOR GUATEMALA VIA PAYPAL, CLICK HERE


Click to enlarge





Grand Lodge of Puerto Rico




Meanwhile, as hurricane season begins this month, experts are still trying to count the number of deaths caused by last September's two devastating hurricanes, Irma and Maria, hitting Puerto Rico. The government’s tally of 64 people dead from the storms was a dramatic undercount, and there is widespread evidence for hundreds of storm-related deaths in the weeks after the hurricanes. Winds, flooding and landslides swept away homes and knocked out power, water and cellular service, which remained largely unrepaired for months. There are still large areas of the island today that remain without electricity and water.

Puerto Rico's Grand Master Raúl Rodríguez Quiles contacted the Masonic Service Association of North America last October asking for help for the brethren of his jurisdiction by issuing a Disaster Relief Appeal. That appeal is still active at this time.





If you wish to donate by check, please make checks payable to "MSA Disaster Relief Fund" and send them to: 
Masonic Service Association
3905 National Drive, Suite 280
Burtonsville, MD 20866
When remitting funds to MSA, please mark checks, "Guatemala Disaster Appeal" or "Puerto Rico Disaster Appeal."


The Masonic Service Association is arguably the best and most effective way to provide financial assistance to Guatemalan and Puerto Rican Masons (or to any other jurisdictions that may also request these official Disaster Relief Appeals through MSA). MSA is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. That is important to remember, especially if you, your company, or foundation are making a large donation and are in need of a tax deduction in return. The charitable arm of the Masonic Service Association was specifically established for the purpose of raising tax deductible donations, and to effectively distribute and account for the funds provided to Masons who receive assistance.

MSA is often asked if any of your contribution is deducted for administrative expenses, and the answer is "No." All expenses, charges by PayPal, bookkeeping, or cost of acknowledgment letters, everything, is absorbed by MSA in its operating budget. Your entire gross donation will be sent to the affected jurisdiction. That's the way it's always been, and that's the way it will continue.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

New York's Clemente Center Exhibit on Haitian Freemasonry


The New York Review of Books over the weekend published a notice of an art exhibition going on in New York City at the Clemente Center this month about Freemasonry on the island of Haiti. 

From "Picturing Haiti’s Freemasons" by Joshua Jelly-Schapiro:
"Haiti, good historians agree, is where the Enlightenment came home to roost. France may have been where Rousseau penned The Rights of Man, but it was in France’s most brutal and lucrative plantation colony—the Caribbean sugar island of Saint-Domingue—that a half million enslaved Africans rose up in 1791 to kill their masters and ask the West: How universal, really, is your idea of universal rights?
"Saint-Domingue (modern-day Haiti) was transformed, by Toussaint L’Ouverture and Jean-Jacques Dessalines, into a free black nation that France saddled with unpayable debts and whose sovereignty the United States didn’t recognize for decades. But the celebrated “Black Jacobin” revolutionaries were not the whole story of how Haiti came to be. Rousseau’s ideas were not the only influences to shape a society built from the ashes of its old plantations. And among the more mysterious facets of Enlightenment culture to leave their mark here was the secret society that the British artist and documentarian Leah Gordon explores, with several collaborators, in a marvelous exhibition about Haiti’s Masonic tradition, “Vernacular Universalism: Freemasonry in Haiti and Beyond,” now at the Clemente Center on Manhattan’s Lower East Side..."


The website of the Clemente Center explains the exhibit this way:
"In Haiti, during the colonial era, the Freemasons were one of the few European institutions that allowed black membership. Freemasonry still thrives in contemporary Haiti, and its visual world pervades the Haitian imaginary. The symbols that recur throughout this exhibition once tethered a web of ideas that stretched across the Atlantic, encrypting the most precious values of the Enlightenment.

"This exhibition aims to visualize the mesh of magic and reason; alchemy and science; trade and metaphysical exchange that has stretched into the 21st century. By focusing on Haiti, this exhibition sheds light on the relationship between colonized peoples and the Enlightenment. It suggests that for some, Freemasonry offered a path to becoming an agent of modernity, rather than its reviled ‘other’. This exhibition will be a timely and significant contribution to an understanding of Freemasonry through the lens of the Black Atlantic."


The island of Hispaniola where Christopher Columbus made first landfall in the Caribbean has had a curious Masonic past. Controlled by Catholic Spain during the early colonial period, the western half of the island was ceded to France in 1697 as San Domingue — later to become Haiti. When Freemasonry took to ships and started to spread around the globe in the 1730s and afterwards, it came to Hispaniola, too. But it took longer on the island than elsewhere because of anti-Masonic policies from the Catholic Church. 

In 1749, the Grand Orient de France (GOdF) chartered two lodges in San Domingue, and another ten or so were established across Hispaniola by 1789. Meanwhile, Masons in Pennsylvania wasted no time after American independence was declared, and eventually chartered seven lodges on the island of their own between 1786 and 1806. Lodges opened and closed in quick succession in those days, as the colonizing European nations fought each other in their Caribbean territories, as well as back at home. While the French Revolution and a decade of slave uprisings and fighting on the island finally brought independence to Haiti after 1804, organized Freemasonry on the island wouldn't manage to withstand the combined turmoil of revolution and the Napoleon years. 

Hispaniola was split into two separate countries after 1800, Haiti and San Domingo (later the Dominican Republic in 1844), and Haiti became the first independent nation in the Caribbean and Latin America by 1804.

Between 1809 and 1817, four new English lodges were chartered in Haiti, at first becoming a Provincial Grand Lodge, and then declaring independence as the Grand Lodge of Haiti in 1824.  But just six years later, the Grand Orient de France came back to the island, importing with them the hauts grades — the "higher degrees."  By 1836, there was established a Scottish Rite Supreme Council and the Grand Orient of Haiti, and the competing groups fought for control of the Craft degrees. Remnants of that battle continue to this day. Meanwhile, on the Dominican side of the island, the Grand Lodge of the Dominican Republic was formed in 1865.




From Freemasons of the Caribbean on the Atlas Obscura website:
"When Haiti won its independence, and utterly abolished slavery at the end of the 1791-1804 Haitian Revolution, Masonry was so ingrained into local culture that the all-black revolutionary government inherited the Craft amongst their other spoils of war.

"François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture, the former slave who led the revolutionary forces against the French, is himself reputed to have been a devout freemason. His own signature seems to attest to the fact, with its combination of two lines and three dots that mimic a popular Masonic shorthand symbol of the time. In fact, some sources claim that Masonry was so integral to Haitian culture and leadership, than any president of the country who was not a Mason prior to office was ordained on the occasion of their election.
"Meanwhile another of Haiti’s founding fathers, Jean-Jacques Dessalines — the self-styled “Emperor Jacques I of Haiti” — was similarly invested in the Craft. The National Museum of History, in the center of Port-au-Prince, houses artifacts such as the slave-turned-emperor’s own sword and scabbard, clearly engraved with square and compass motifs..."
Freemasonry today prospers on Haiti,. The Grand Orient d'Haiti currently lists 50 lodges with 9,700 members on its rolls, and they are widely recognized around the world as regular. They are currently recognized by all US and Canadian grand lodges, and the UGLE.

For a more personal description and photos of the New York exhibition, also have a look at The Art of Haitian Freemasonry by 'acorngrove' on the Steemit site HERE.

The Clemente Center is located at 107 Suffolk Street in New York City. The exhibition runs until June 23rd.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

SRRS' 'The Plumbline' Bound Collection Now Shipping


"What do we want?"
MASONIC EDUCATION!
"When do we want it?"
NOW!

I seem to hear variations of this chanting in nearly every Masonic Facebook group, in lodge discussions, Reddit threads, Masonic survey results, and seemingly everywhere else I turn in the fraternity. I've been hearing it since the day I joined Masonry almost twenty years ago, and I keep on hearing it. I fact, I keep being told that men leave the fraternity every day because they didn't find any "education" when they came to lodge a few times. "Nobody is educating me!" comes the plaintive cry.

Balderdash.

"Masonic education" is everywhere you look, but YOU HAVE TO LOOK. Freemasonry has been freighted with more than its share of members who just simply refused to read and educate themselves ever since it began, as Albert Mackey lamented in the 1870s. That's a downright shame, because that "Masonic education" members supposedly clamor for is just laying out there, waiting to be picked up and read, if only Brethren would bother to open a book. 

Case in point:


Last week, a five pound box positively crammed full of "Masonic education" thudded onto my doorstep in the form of the latest bonus book of the Scottish Rite Research Society

After 27 years of publication, the SRRS has collected together every single issue of their outstanding quarterly newsletter, The Plumbline 1991-2016, into one complete hardbound, facsimile volume. Every page, every article, every photograph is reproduced, and it fills more than 660 pages of indexed gold. 

SRRS members who were dues current in 2016 should be receiving it, if they haven't already.

This huge volume is a godsend. Because The Plumbline was published for all of these years in a six- or eight-page folded newsletter format, the problem all along has been the ephemeral nature of it. They weren't considered disposable to regular readers, yet they were frequently disposed of — Plumblines all too easily got tossed out with the latest stack of frozen steak catalogues and angry bill collection notices. I myself have been painstakingly piling up old issues of The Plumbline since I first joined the SRRS, because there have been indispensable articles in them I didn't want to lose. But there was never an easy way to access all of them, as they were crammed haphazardly into reams of overstuffed 3-inch binders on an upstairs shelf. 

To call The Plumbline a "newsletter" does it a horrible disservice, as the substantive articles that have filled it all these years are NOT lighthearted announcements of meetings, elections, and event dates. They are sometimes papers that were sometimes considered too short to warrant inclusion in the pages of the annual Heredom, but that doesn't mean they were thinner on quality or research or thought-provoking content. And they are not just about the Scottish Rite, either. 

That said, it should be stressed that most of these papers were specially written for The Plumbline and not simply too short for the SRRS's hard-backed, thicker cousin publication. The editor is always on the lookout for articles and papers, ideally of around 3500-4000 words. Over the years, The Plumbline has been edited by Pete Normand, S. Brent Morris, John Boettjer, Forrest Haggard, Jim Tresner, Michael Halleran, Robert M. Wolfarth, and today by Adam Kendall. Adam can be contacted through the Plumbline's website HERE.
There is WONDERFUL information to be found here, by many of the top Masonic authors and researchers of the last three decades – as well as outstanding brethren you may not have heard of before. 

You want to present "Masonic education" at your next lodge meeting? Open this book to any page and start reading at random: I stopped at Paul M. Bessel's Ten Steps To Interesting Masonic Research; Rex Hutchens' The Place of Tradition in Ritual Integrity; Paul Rich's Count Leo Tolstoy and Freemasonry; David Stafford's Freemasonry and the Development of Greek-Letter Fraternities; Jon Crusoe's References the the Craft in the Works of Robert A. Heinlein; Wayne Simon's two-part article on military lodges in the Civil War; Gary Leazer's Mystery Religions and Freemasonry...

The same can be said of the five (soon to be six) hardbound volumes of all of the collected Short Talk Bulletins of the Masonic Service Association (which were also collected, edited and blessedly indexed into their hardback editions by S. Brent Morris). Every lodge should have these books (or even just one or two of them, if too many thick books in the building terrify your members). 

The point is that Masonic education doesn't mean YOU have to go out, research a topic, and present a well-reasoned original paper on a groundbreaking subject no one's ever done before. Freemasonry is such that you could read the EXACT same article aloud in lodge every three years, and you'll have a whole new audience listening (with a handful of exceptions). 

So do your lodge and yourself a favor: get hold of a copy of this book or the MSA's collections, open to any page, and start reading. I promise, it's like popcorn and you won't stop. Then go share it with your lodge Brethren next month.

GL of Wisconsin Votes To Save and Support Madison Temple



Over the weekend, the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin F&AM held their Annual Communication in the historic Madison Masonic Center (MMC), which sits just one block from the state capitol building. The Masonic Center is home to fourteen Masonic bodies and the Scottish Rite Children's Dyslexia Center, and it has been the meeting place for the Wisconsin Annual Communication for many years. The beautiful beaux arts interior features two lodge rooms, a grand ballroom, dining room, offices, lounges, the Robert Monteith Masonic Library and Museum, and the large auditorium that seats approximately 1,000.




Built between 1923 and 1925, the impressive and imposing neo-classical temple is located in Madison's Mansion Hill Historic District and adjacent to the National Register-listed Langdon Street Historic District, an area of impressive homes that that was transformed in the 20th century into "fraternity row" for the nearby University of Wisconsin. Like so many other landmark Masonic buildings across the country, the Madison Temple was part of the 'City Beautiful' movement that swept the nation after the 1893 Chicago Exhibition.

As you might expect these days, the Madison Temple has been having all of the usual big Masonic building problems, and we all know the same old stories: declining membership, deferred maintenance, an ineffective board of directors, years of indecision as squabbling and indecision prevented long-range assurances for future planning and financing.  The same pattern has been repeated all over the country. Things looked very bleak in Madison as 2018 began, but a last minute resolution was submitted by the MMC Board offering to transfer ownership of the center to the Grand Lodge.

Well, after so many important Masonic temples have been thrown overboard in the last two decades by the fraternity, I am happy to report that Wisconsin's voting delegates on Saturday voted to save and substantially support the Madison Masonic Center (MMC). The Grand Lodge is now the full owner, and they added $10 to their annual per capita statewide (for at least the next two years) for all Wisconsin Masons, who will now share a stake in its future.

The following resolution was slightly amended, but passed essentially as proposed:
Resolution Number 8-2018
Submitted By: Executive Committee
Section(s) Affected:
Vote required for Adoption: Majority
Purpose: To Preserve the Madison Masonic Center
RESOLVED, that the Grand Lodge Free and Accepted Masons of Wisconsin be authorized to receive the transfer of a clear title from the Madison Masonic Center Foundation of the property known as the Madison Masonic Center, and
That the Grand Lodge Free and Accepted Masons of Wisconsin assess each member of the State a minimum of $10.00 per person to facilitate the management and preservation of the property. This is considered an assessment and as such each Regular and Perpetual Member will be assessed the fee as of December 31st of each year. Such fee to be due with the per capita payment.  
Considering that the decision was of such great importance and represented such a substantial increase in per capita, I've been told there was actually quite little discussion, as the vast majority of the brethren had no desire to give up Masonry's magnificent architectural heritage in Wisconsin's capitol city. There is talk that the Grand Lodge offices now may move into the building from the small town of Dousman, Wisconsin. Instead of fleeing to the suburbs into a cheap, uninspiring shed or some anonymous foursquare brick cubicle indistinguishable from a dentist's office, they are sticking with the magnificent home built by their forefathers, and keeping Freemasonry in the center of the community where it belongs.

The description in the National Register listing for the Temple makes this observation:
All other historic fraternal halls [in Madison] have been demolished. This makes the Madison Masonic Temple unique as the only extant historic building related to a social fraternal groups in the city. The Masonic Temple is not only important because it is the only remaining historic building related to Madison's most significant social fraternal societies. It is also significant because the Masons helped define the social structure in Madison during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Masons were some of the most prominent men in the community. And, while the gathering together of important people in the community in a social or fraternal setting may not, in and of itself, be significant, it is well known that important business and political connections were made between the members of fraternal lodges, and that these connections often had an indirect, if not direct, effect on the growth and development the city. There are no written records that establish the Madison Masonic Temple as a place where such connections were made. But since theMasons were the most prominent fraternal group in Madison, it is likely that such connections were made and that they resulted in important economic or political developments in the city."

When you walk up the steps to the main entrance of Madison's temple today, there are two inscriptions on the cornice: "Temple of Freemasonry," and "Let There Be Light." Thankfully, the brethren of Wisconsin have assured that both of those sentiments will be prominently preserved in Madison into the future.

Well done, brethren.





UPDATE JUNE 7, 2018:

A few days have passed since the annual communication now, and some clarification is coming from Wisconsin. The transfer of ownership to the Grand Lodge of the MMC is obviously not a done deal just yet. The passage of Resolution No. 8 gave a strong majority approval for the Grand Lodge to enter into discussions over taking ownership of the building from the current MMC Foundation Board. There is acknowledgement that other income streams need to be investigated, but the building and property are worth many millions of dollars, and the value of the assets far exceed any debts it may have. 

In a Facebook message sent out to members, incoming Grand Master Scott E. Pedley made an important point to members that many might not have considered before. Wisconsin is like Indiana, in that the State does not levy property taxes on Masonic buildings there. This is a fortunate situation not uniformly enjoyed in numerous states. The Madison Masonic Center's location, just a few blocks from the Statehouse, is a daily reminder to legislators of the fraternity, its history, its countless charitable programs, and its importance to society. If the highly visible Temple vanished from their sight tomorrow, it would be all too easy to for the fraternity to fall out of the public mind, especially when politicians decide to go hunting up new things to tax in future.

That is a very real concern for a fraternity that has played such an important role in the growth and development of every state in the U.S. Time and again, Freemasonry predated the formation of state governments, and Freemasons almost uniformly helped to establish those states. 

GM Pedley points out that the Grand Lodge's library and museum just up the street from the Statehouse would be the one place those legislators could find that unique information in future.

As for the $10 per capita increase, if (and only if) the transfer of the building to the Grand Lodge does happen, the assessment will be added for just two years. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Grand Lodge of Florida Issues Statement on Prince Hall Recognition

The following official statement was issued by the Grand Lodge of Florida F&AM concerning Prince Hall recognition on their Facebook page at about 5:30PM on Wednesday, May 30th:


Prince Hall “Recognition” 189th Annual Grand Communication of The Grand Lodge Free and Accepted Masons of Florida
At the 189th Annual Grand Communication of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Florida, the Craft voted overwhelmingly to “empower our Grand Master to sign an acceptable agreement extending “Recognition” to the Most Worshipful Union Grand Lodge Free and Accepted Masons, Florida, Belize, Central America & Jurisdiction, Incorporated, Prince Hall Affiliated”.
An exert [sic] of the REPORT OF THE SUB-COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS 2017-2018 reads:
To the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Florida
On April 18, 2018, M∴W∴ A.T. Stafford, PGM of Prince Hall reported that at their Grand Lodge session: “The Committee report was presented and well received. The Committee presented 3 wording samples of the recognition agreement; however, a decision on the one to be used was not reached. A vote on which agreement will be used will take place in 90 days at our mid-year meeting. The entire Craft was pleased the dialogue that has taken place, and all are looking forward to the agreement being finalized”
The Prince Hall mid-year meeting will take place in July.
Fraternal “Recognition” has not been extend, it is close, both Grand Masters, Grand Line Officers and Foreign Relations Committees are earnestly and diligently working to finalize extending “Recognition”.
Once a “Recognition Agreement” is finalized, notification will be distributed.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

UPDATED: GL of Florida F&AM Votes To Recognize Prince Hall Grand Lodge

NOTE: THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN UPDATED AND CORRECTED AT 4:40PM 5/30/2018, AND MORE INFORMATION WILL BE ADDED AS DETAILS ARE MADE AVAILABLE:

I was prematurely informed that mutual recognition in Florida was passed on Tuesday - that's not quite the case just yet.

The Grand Lodge of Florida F&AM voted Tuesday at their 189th Annual Communication to finalize the steps to mutually recognize as regular their Prince Hall counterparts – the Most Worshipful Union Grand Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons, Prince Hall Affiliated, of Florida and Belize, Central America, Inc.,(established in 1870). 

This comes nearly a decade after Florida's PHA grand lodge first reached out to their mainstream brethren by requesting recognition. The GL of Florida rejected those overtures in the past, and the PHA grand lodge dropped the subject. However, private meetings and off the record conversations reactivated the process in the last few months. 

Following backchannel discussions between the two jurisdictions, the MW Union Grand Lodge of Florida developed options concerning terms by which they could accept recognition from the Grand Lodge of Florida. For their own constitutional reasons, those proposals had to lay over for 90 days – that period has not run its course yet.

So, what the members of the GL of Florida voted in favor of Tuesday was to grant the incoming Grand Master, John Karroum, the final authority to accept or deny terms of recognition after the MWUGLF undertakes their own voting. 

I have not seen any official wording of the motion passed this week (it was NOT a written resolution, but it was passed almost unanimously), so it is unclear to me if there is an additional step required at the 2019 Annual Communication to finalize it. Nevertheless, both GLs appear to be on track to achieve mutual recognition within the coming year.


In several other states, joint recognition has been something like a dog chasing a speeding car who didn't know what to do with it once he caught the thing. A first step has sometimes been to recognize first without visitation, which was then worked out in subsequent years. It was recently that way at first in Texas, and it seems to be the current case in Alabama. 

If Florida succeeds at all of the fine points of Masonic diplomacy, there will remain just seven mainstream, predominantly white grand lodges in the U.S. and Canada that have not recognized their predominantly black Prince Hall Affiliated (PHA) grand lodge counterparts: Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, and West Virginia.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day: Heroes and Giants Walked In Our Midst

Brother Michel Henry Bellon during his stint in the British SAS
If you suddenly found yourself in a society that outlawed Masonic affiliation tomorrow, how important would it be to you to be a Freemason? 

Memorial Day may be the most poignant time of all to pause and reflect upon that question. Of this very special and sombre holiday that makes up part of America's unique "civic religion," the soldier, journalist and poet Joyce Kilmer wrote:


Above their wreath-strewn graves we kneel,
They kept the faith and fought the fight.
Through flying lead and crimson steel
They plunged for Freedom and the Right. 

May we, their grateful children, learn
Their strength, who lie beneath this sod,
Who went through fire and death to earn
At last the accolade of God.

Since I started this blog back in 2006, I have very, very rarely ever posted an entire presentation or paper written by anyone else here. Usually it's because of space, and I generally link to an online version elsewhere. But my friend and Brother Shelby Chandler at Fredericksburg Lodge No. 4 in Virginia sent the following story to me this week as Memorial Day approached, and I felt that it was especially timely. 



Fredericksburg, Virginia is home what is believed to be the oldest Masonic cemetery in the United States. For the last 15 years, the brethren of Fredericksburg Lodge No. 4 (George Washington's own Mother lodge) have held an outdoor Memorial Day presentation at the historic 1784 Old Masonic Cemetery at the corner of Charles and George Streets. Traditionally, the lodge reads off the list of Masons interred there who died in the service of America, and they pay tribute to a noteworthy Brother from the past. 

I've highlighted some deeply troubling anti-Masonic activity in Europe the last few months, and this story today brings up something vital that every Freemason should ask himself: are we Freemasons in our lives and in all we do, or are we just in some club called 'The Freemasons?' As Masons, we must hold ourselves to standards of conduct higher than others so that we may stand as shining examples in society. That is how we change the world one man at a time – whether that world is at peace, at war, or in the brief, chaotic pauses between the two throughout history.

The paper that follows was given on Saturday at the cemetery, but the subject was a bit different this year. The Brother who was the subject of this presentation did not die in battle, but in 2014. He was not an American at the time he fought the fight, he was French. And though his father and step-father were both Masons, he did not join the fraternity of Freemasonry until he was 51 years old. 

And yet, I think you will agree that his story is worth repeating here.

Not every hero wears a helmet, or a cape for that matter. When the fighters and survivors of World War II were our living parents and grandparents, these everyday lionhearts and giants walked silently in our midst every day. Keep their memories alive by telling their stories for them, because the only way we can successfully chart the future is to learn from the past. 


And remember.




Michel Henry Bellon
Michel Henry Bellon

On November 16, 2007, Bro. Michel Henry Bellon gave a presentation on his life as a 14-year old boy within the French Resistance of Nazi-Occupied France and the Masonic leadership that had helped organized these French patriots. Brother Michel Henry Bellon was born in Paris, France on December 19, 1926.

France surrendered to Germany on 22 June 1940, and those who resented Germany occupation and the Vichy government formed cells that were collectively named the French Resistance. His father was a Freemason as was his stepfather, who was one of these underground leaders and Michel was a boy who was invaluable to the Vercors's efforts simply because he spoke English and would become the translator for three American OSS agents who were sent into enemy territory to train them on the use of weapons and ordinance.

At the time of the occupation, France was divided into two zones; the Occupied Zone, which was directly controlled by the Nazis, and the Free Zone, which was the new French Vichy Government who supported the Axis powers. The German Gestapo, or the German secret police controlled the internal operations of the Occupied Zone, while the Milice francaise, or “French militia” (also known as the Milliciens) a paramilitary force trained by the Gestapo who controlled internal operations within the Free Zone. On October 13, 1940, once the Millicien was established and trained, the government of the Vichy Free Zone immediately decreed that all Freemasons were to be arrested and many Brethren went to concentration camps.

As Bro. Michel reported, following this, the Freemasons within the Occupied Zone came together to discuss the idea of the first active-passive Resistance force, and left the meeting agreeing to three active participants per Lodge in this resistance. As a result of this meeting, the natural network of 211 French Masonic Lodges became the core foundation of the newly established French Resistance, the Maquis de Vercors. The agreement of three members was so that if any of the three were caught, the rest would be protected and none would know which others took their place. It was further agreed that the majority of the Masons were to join the various military groups with the intention of returning home to teach others what martial skills they learned.

The decision was made that the Resistance should gather intelligence, rescue downed allied pilots, to assist escaping Jews, and to support allied espionage infiltration. It was also later recognized that some of these Masons would freely volunteer to work within the Vichy and German governments in order to collect information to be sent to London. Michel’s stepfather, Roger Bellon, was a leader of one of these Masonic Lodges and was one of the three selected from his Lodge, and would go on to become a Commander of the Andromeda sector of the Resistance. On June 17, 1941, this group as a whole formed the Provisional Council of French Masonry working out of an apartment in Paris and communicating with London; this would be the decision making committee of action until 1944.

Bro. Michel tells of a story of Bro. Levant, who for a time headed this Provisional Council. He was arrested, sentenced and then sent before some elderly German gentleman of great authority, who repeatedly asked him for his “birthdates.” Shortly thereafter, Bro. Levant realized that his interrogator was a German Freemason who was attempting to learn of his “Masonic birthdates,” and once he established that Bro. Levant was indeed a French Mason, the German Brother not only let him go, but gave him the name of the informer who turned him in; a French Mason who happened to be part of the resistance himself.

While many Freemasons were captured, tortured and killed by the enemy, of those captured, few were imprisoned but most were sent to Germany to be interred into concentration camps. Bro. Michel’s father was one of those Masons who suffered this fate, and after much abuse he would lay down his working tools at Auschwitz. 

Roger Bellon, Michel's step-father, upon his liberation from Buchenwald in 1945 by US forces
Likewise, Michel’s stepfather was eventually captured and sent to Buchenwald, but was later freed by Patton’s army on April 11, 1945 (photo). 

Bro. Michel himself also had his own part to play in this resistance movement. Initially, he was sent to the Free Zone, where he collected information and delivered documents and reports to people going back to England.

Bro. Michel notes that as a kid, he befriended an Italian officer who hated the Germans and Mussolini so much that he would divulge information to him on what the Germans were doing, and young Michel would get this information “to the right people.” Because of this, his stepfather eventually had to come for him, informing him that his name was on the German’s capture list, and that they were coming to arrest him. So he was taken to a school where he would be safe, and which happened to be a central and major part of the French resistance with regard to activity. Michel joined as a soldier of Aster sector.

Bro. Michel reported that when he first got to the school, the British would drop night deliveries of basic-need items to them twice a week. But shortly after the Americans joined the fight, the Americans took over and begin to drop clothes, ammunition, rifles, machine guns, mortars, and explosives nightly at an unprecedented rate. Then one night, three Americans dropped from the sky and informed them that they were agents sent there to train them in the use of these items. They trained in the use of this equipment and worked together to clear the field below the school for incoming gliders and paratroopers.

Over time, they received word that someone reported to the Nazis of strangers in the area, and it was decided that it was time for the Americans to leave. The head of the school informed the Americans that they would need to escape, but someone would have to be their interpreter in their travels. Since Bro. Michel spoke English, he was assigned the duty of getting them out of France. Bro. Michel laughed as he told us that his first assignment in this duty was to get normal French clothes for these Americans to wear, which was difficult because most Frenchmen stood 5’8” to 5’10” and the shortest American was 6’3”. He eventually found them proper attire, and the four of them begun their five day journey to the Spanish border. He informed the Americans that if they were discovered during this journey or if anyone attempted to talk to them, he would excuse them as deaf and dumb and would use sign language. It was during this journey that Michel would see many atrocities done to the people whose bodies were left for others to see by the Germans. Bro. Michel reported that seeing the bodies of rape victims and children was something that he would remember forever and always made him very angry to recall it.

They would eventually make it to the American Embassy in Spain and sent immediately to London where the Americans were separated from him to be officially debriefed.

Before leaving France, his stepfather, Roger Bellon, directed Michel to seek out his godfather in London, who was a French General. Michel was not able to find him, so the British persuaded him to join the British Army SAS or paratroopers. He made his five required jumps and received his wings before his godfather found him and used his influence to process Michel out of the British Army. Michel was then sent to Morocco to recertify as a pilot because Michel was known to have flown planes since he was 12 years of age. While training as a French pilot in Marrakech, he received his pilot’s license and was selected as one of ten French men to enter into a US Army Air Corps program to train French pilots on American fighter planes.

Initially he flew a transport plane while in Marrakech, but the American flying program had him relocate to Casablanca, Morocco, where he was given the opportunity to fly American planes such as the P-51 Mustang, P-47 Thunderbolt and B-17 Flying Fortress and as a completion of this program, Bro. Michel would likewise fly four combat missions as a bomber pilot. It was during this time that Bro. Michel would meet with the Pasha Thami El Glaoui, Lord of the Atlas, who was a friend of the Bellon family, and gifted Michel with a pair of fighting knives for his bravery during his time in the French Resistance.

When the war ended, Bro. Michel was 21 years old, and for his service in the resistance he received the Croix de Guerre, or Military Cross, which outside of the Legion of Honor is France's highest military citation that any military personnel could receive for acts of bravery and heroism. He received this award for destroying a Nazi fuel and munitions depot when he was 17. Americans who have received this medal are George Patton, Audie Murphy, Dwight Eisenhower and Jimmy Stewart.

His citation reads, in part:
Decision no. 297


SECRETARY OF STATE TO THE PRESIDENCY OF THE COUNCIL OF STATE
CITE THE ORDER OF THE BRIGADE
Michel Henry Bellon
"In August 1943, as a Liaison Officer of the Aster Network sector of the France Fighting Force (FFC) Nestle. Voluntarily committed at seventeen years of age to the army of the Vercors and took part in the French regions of Rousset, Romans, Vasmieux, Thains and Lyon. He showed great courage and military qualities by successfully destroying at the peril of his own life, a German ammunition depot. After the Liberation he joined the 2nd Airborne Infantry Regiment 4th Battalion of Foot. This quote includes the award of the Military Cross with Bronze Star."
But one of his favorite memories was when he finally came to the United States in 1951 to become an American citizen, he found that his paper work was already processed, and three of his American friends from the war were present to be with him when took upon himself the oath of citizenship.

As for his Masonic record, Brother Michel was initiated, passed and raised in Amity Lodge, Massachusetts: EA 11/4/77, FC 12/9/77, MM 1/17/78. He would later affiliate with Virginia's Fredericksburg Lodge No. 4 on 5/8/98.

Brother Michel would go on to become a model American citizen, flying as a pilot for Air France, and he would meet his second wife, Rita and remain with her till his death. He loved being a Freemason and a member of Fredericksburg Lodge No. 4, and he served as its Tyler from 2004 to 2008, and Masonic Home Ambassador from 2004 to 2010, until his health began to deteriorate. In later years, he was often reported to say that he would miss his time away from his brethren and he enjoyed those moments they would visit him. Brothers would share similar feelings that he was an exemplary Freemason who cared for people and enjoyed the best in each individual and distinguished himself with modesty, humility and curtesy.

He passed to the Celestial Lodge at the age of 88 on August 6, 2014.

As for those of us who called him friend and Brother, it is our lot to honor the courage and love of a good brother and to remind others of his accomplishments which has greatly contributed to the accolades and honor to the whole of our Masonic legacy. Let those who never met him learn from the story of his life that the sacrifices of those before us will never be in vain. Through Brother Michel, let us recognize the Masonic ideas and virtues that we promise to inculcate and to renew ourselves to our obligations. 

Let us remember Brother Michel Bellon.

Research Team on Bro. Michel Bellon: Bros. Dennis David, Christopher Decker PM, Anthony Rudder PM and Shelby Chandler PM




Brother Michel told his story at a meeting of National Sojourners Chapter 545 on November 16th, 2007. You can see a video of that presentation on YouTube below.